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What is Diabetes? [Index]

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.  The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of proper exercise appear to play roles.  There are two major types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2.


The Impact of Diabetes [Index]

There are 15.7 million people or 5.9% of the population in the United States who have diabetes.  While an estimated 10.3 million have been diagnosed, unfortunately, 5.4 million people are not aware that they have the disease.  Each day approximately 2,200 people are diagnosed with diabetes.   About 798,000 people will be diagnosed this year.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death (sixth-leading cause of death by disease) in the United States.  Based on death certificate data, diabetes contributed to 198,140 deaths in 1996.  Diabetes is a chronic disease that has no cure.

Diabetes is a Silent Killer

Many people first become aware that they have diabetes when they develop one of its life-threatening complications.

Direct and Indirect Costs of Diabetes [Index]

Diabetes is one of the most costly health problems in America.  Health care and other costs directly related to diabetes treatment, as well as the costs of lost productivity, run $98 billion annually.

What is Type 1 Diabetes? [Index]

Type 1 Diabetes is a disease that results from the body's failure to produce insulin -- the hormone that "unlocks" the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them.  There are two forms of Type 1.  Immune-mediated diabetes mellitus results from an autoimmune process in which the body's immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas.  Since glucose cannot enter the cells, it builds up in the blood and the body's cells literally starve to death.  The second, Idiopathic Type 1, refers to rare forms of the disease that have no known cause.   People with Type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to stay alive.

What is Type 2 Diabetes? [Index]

Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance (a condition in which the body fails to make enough or to properly use insulin), combined with relative insulin deficiency.  Often Type 2 diabetes can be controlled through losing weight, improved nutrition and exercise alone, but many people need oral medications and/or insulin to control their diabetes.

What Are the Other Types of Diabetes? [Index]

Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of insulin resistance that usually occurs halfway through a pregnancy as a result of excessive hormone production in the body, or the pancreas' inability to make the additional insulin that is needed during some pregnancies in women with no previous history of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.  Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for later developing Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers have identified a small percentage of diabetes cases that result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses and other illnesses.

Who is at Greater Risk for Type 1 Diabetes? [Index]


Who is at Greater Risk for Type 2 Diabetes? [Index]

Type 2 diabetes is more common among these ethnic groups:

Warning Signs of Diabetes [Index]

Type 1 Diabetes: Type 2 Diabetes:
  • Frequent urination

  • Any of the Type 1 symptoms
  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent infections
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands or feet
  • Irritability
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections
* Often people with Type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.

Symptoms [Index]

Often diabetes goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless.  Recent studies indicate the early detection and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.

Some of the symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Frequent urination

  • Excessive thirst

  • Extreme hunger

  • Unusual weight loss

  • Increased fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Blurry vision

If you have one or more of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

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Material taken from the American Diabetes Association.